Blogs from the NADA Convention

Volvo and the 'sweet hereafter'

Posted 12:59 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 30
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
Excruciatingly long product lead times have always challenged automakers, who have to figure out what will sell four or five years hence. But they’re tough on dealers, too, who face lengthy product droughts while hearing -- literally for years -- about the really sweet stuff that’s on the way. Take Volvo, for instance. At the National Automobile Dealers Association convention last we ...
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A new Gold Rush sweeps over California

Posted 12:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- George Soros' people weren't the only nontraditional buyers of car dealerships prowling the NADA convention. Rick Kotzen and Ron Sompels, partners at accounting firm Crowe Horwath, held meetings here with several well-heeled groups looking for a piece of the considerable action in auto retailing. In the past year or so, Kotzen says the firm has been in contact with up to 20 so-c ...
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Spending billions but coming up short on the trust scale

Posted 9:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 25
blogs Krishnan Anantharaman is a news editor for Automotive News in Detroit.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Auto dealers are pillars of their communities. They sponsor Little League teams. They fund scholarships for disadvantaged children. They donate vehicles to first responders. They pay their taxes and fly big flags. So why do so many consumers drive out of dealerships feeling uneasy -- even if they got the car they wanted at roughly the price they wanted? What explains the fact tha ...
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How to get a deal done

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
blogs Staff Reporter Amy Wilson covers auto retailing out of Atlanta for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the reasons it might be a great time to sell your dealership? Some of the private equity groups scouting auto retail are so eager to put their investors' money to work, they'll overpay, says Tim York, managing partner of accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman. In addition to advising dealers, the firm has also been working with some of the outside private equity groups and ...
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Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
The best handicappers of the U.S. market may be the folks lining up to buy dealerships. They place bets in the form of the multiples of earnings they're prepared to pay for stores. "The goodwill numbers people are willing to pay have probably peaked," says broker Mark Johnson. "If you buy a store, you want to be able to forecast growth. That's how you get the multiple to work for you." You'll of ...
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Could a Super Bowl loss deflate car sales in New England or Seattle?

Posted 4:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Nick Bunkley reports on Ford for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Cars are emotional purchases for consumers. A Wisconsin dealer told me he got clear evidence of that this week, after the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the NFL playoffs is heartbreaking fashion. Until then, sales had been going well at Rapids Ford-Lincoln, owner Allen Taylor said. "We were just clicking away all month," he said. Then, the Packers inexplicably blew a 16- ...
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Sometimes success comes from a loving push

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- A few months ago, I interviewed a West Virginia car dealer named Mike Wood. You might have caught the article we ran in Automotive News. Wood struck me as a dynamo. He is building a dealership group the old-fashioned way -- long hours. Wearing many hats. Doing without. Getting by on too little sleep. Praying for good weather. Celebrating every little move forward. Buying underper ...
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Money's cheap, so here come the store upgrades

Posted 9:30 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog misstated Chip Walker's last name. Also, it misstated where Custom Facilities is based.  SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the better indicators of the health of a business is its willingness -- and ability -- to make capital expenditures. By that measure, auto retailers are doing well. There’s all the activity at the Moscone Center's multiple hall ...
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North of U.S. border, big dealer groups emerge on 2 fronts

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Dave Versical is Automotive News' director of editorial operations.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Canada and the United States. Neighbors, yet worlds apart by some automotive yard-, er, metre sticks. The U.S. typically sells 10 times as many vehicles as Canada. GM has long been No. 1 in its home country; Ford rules to the north. But Canada is looking more like the U.S. in one area: Dealer groups are getting bigger. “Consolidation is happening in our country,” sa ...
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Where are you spending your dollars on digital?

Posted 5:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- The impact of digital tools on dealerships’ marketing has grown exponentially. Those tools have been a hot topic at the last few NADA conventions. But it may be time for the focus to shift. “Digital marketing has left the building,” Scott Gruwell, general manager of Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, told me on the sidelines of an automotive lenders conference. &ldq ...
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NADA, Tesla, pitchforks and torches -- a missed opportunity

Posted 1:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs
Elon Musk drew a huge crowd last week in Detroit, when he spoke at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress. (GLENN TRIEST)
NICK BUNKLEY:  SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeb Bush and Jay Leno are the keynote speakers at this weekend’s NADA convention, which is great, because car dealers tend to love Republicans and bad jokes. If there’s one thing many car dealers can’t stand right now, it’s Tesla. Yet here they are, thousands of them, spending a few days right in Elon Musk’s backyard. It’s hard to have a dealer ...
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Building a new fortress to protect data

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- It may be too late to be paranoid. When it comes to protecting sensitive data against hackers, the days of building thick digital walls and moat are over, said Boulton Fernando, chief security officer at Toyota Financial Services. We should assume the hackers are already inside our preliminary defenses, he said. Now it’s about moving the crown jewels into a safe inside a c ...
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The other side of the digital ad craze

Posted 7:15 am U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Car dealers will be deluged with talk of digital advertising this week at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention here Digital ad spending by dealers will increase 25 percent this year, according to a recent forecast by market watchers Borrell Associates. But ad agency owner Terry Lancaster has some different advice for retailers: Don’t be so ...
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Navigating the great digital divide

Posted 3:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson says that most customers don't want a fully digital deal in which their vehicle is delivered to their home or office. They want to come into a store, look the car over, maybe even change their minds. (DAVID PHILLIPS)
DAVE GUILFORD:  SAN FRANCISCO -- The data vs. the gut. As auto dealers gather for the NADA convention here in the heart of the United States’ disruptive, digital culture, it’s clear that they have to navigate between those two styles of management. Again and again, speakers at the Automotive News Retail Forum on Thursday explained how they were adapting to the shopping styles of modern consumers, ma ...
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Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers

Posted 8:25 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
A lot of auto people can't seem to make up their minds about whether low gasoline prices are in the long-term best interest of the car industry, given that they may not be in the best interest of the economy at large.But none of those people are dealers, it seems. Just ask the dealers at the Moscone Center."It sure doesn't hurt," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co. in Columbus, Ohio. "For ...
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Fox, incoming chair, stumbles and takes on look of a prizefighter

Posted 2:01 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bill Fox, incoming NADA chairman, tripped and fell in San Francisco earlier this week, requiring five stitches in his chin and three trips to the dentist so far for repairs, according to outgoing NADA Chairman Forrest McConnnell. McConnell subbed for Fox in a presentation Thursday at the American Financial Services Association Vehicle Finance Conference. ...
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Why Jeep executives might be praying for more snow days

Posted 1:48 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers FCA for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- There are six basic questions that journalists use to write and explain what’s going on around us. They’re expressed very simply, but on occasion, incredibly hard to answer. Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How? And when you think about Jeep -- specifically the brand that tallied over 1 million global sales in 2014, including 692,348 sales in the U.S. -- most of thos ...
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Industry's rising chorus: Timing is everything

Posted 6:27 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Dave Versical is Automotive News' director of editorial operations.
 
Dealers spoke. NADA listened. So this year’s convention started a day earlier, to get you home for the entire last-week-of-the-month sales push. That nod to time is a rising industry issue. We hear a lot about the 60-minute transaction. The thinking: Impatient millennials will be drawn to stores that can close a deal on a $30,000 car in just twice the time Domino’s delivers a pizza. ...
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Luddites? Really?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
Maybe you saw this: Four states received a “Luddite Award” from a Washington, D.C., think tank for laws preventing Tesla from opening its own stores. The four -- Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas -- collectively were one of 10 organizations or individuals that got the dubious award for having “done the most in 2014 to smash the engines of innovation,” the Information ...
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What keeps leadership dealers awake at night?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 17
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
DETROIT -- Even in good times, there are things that will keep most dealers awake at night. At the Detroit auto show last week, I sat down with the outgoing chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Forrest McConnell, and the incoming chairman, Bill Fox, to talk about what gives them restless nights. On the surface everything seems wonderful: Many analysts are calling for a 17 mil ...
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